Grounds for Divorce
In Virginia, the person filing for divorce needs to have “grounds” for divorce. The fault grounds authorized in Virginia include: adultery, felony, cruelty, and desertion. Alternatively, a spouse may file for “no-fault divorce” after separation. An individual must be a legal resident in Virginia for at least 6 months before filing for divorce.
In Virginia, adultery constitutes grounds for divorce, but requires corroboration of evidence of one spouse having intimate relations with a party outside the marriage. However, both spouses can’t voluntarily live together after knowledge of the adultery. The filing spouse must file for divorce within 5 years of learning about the adultery.
A spouse can file for divorce in Virginia if the other spouse is convicted of a felony after the marriage. The conviction must result in confinement for at least one year. Additionally, the spouses cannot continue to live together after one spouse learns of the other’s confinement.
An individual can file for divorce if his or her spouse is guilty of cruelty or caused reasonable apprehension of bodily hurt. The filing spouse must file for divorce within one year of the relevant act. Cruelty typically requires conduct that causes bodily harm or fear of bodily harm and makes living together unsafe. Conduct resulting in mental anguish and repeated neglect may constitute cruelty if it makes the marriage intolerable.
A spouse may also file for divorce if he or she was willfully deserted or abandoned by the other spouse. Desertion requires a spouse to willfully separate from the other spouse without justification with the intent to remain separated permanently. This separation does not require physical separation, but may also be established if the spouse abandons his or her marital duties.
A spouse may file for divorce after being separated and living apart for a set period of time. If the couple has minor children, they must be separated for one year before filing for divorce. If the couple doesn’t have children, they can file for divorce after living separately for 6 months, if both spouses enter into a separation agreement establishing how property will be divided.
All grounds for divorce in Virginia must be corroborated by evidence, including an independent witness. The standard of proof and evidence required differs depending on the grounds for divorce alleged. Additionally, the grounds of divorce alleged may impact the division of property. Going through a divorce can be difficult enough already, without the financial implications. Individuals should consider consulting an attorney knowledgeable in the process and relevant laws. Our family law attorneys can help you navigate the process.